August 19, 2013, by David Greenaway

The VC’s Life Cycle 3 Blog: Day 0 – Final Preparations

Karen, David, Kate and Penelope at the end of LC2Oh how time flies!

It hardly seems like yesterday since we arrived in Dover to complete Life Cycle 2. It was a full year ago, yet so much has happened since then. Perhaps that’s the point, there is so much going on that time passes almost unnoticed.

We had our final briefing earlier this week. The logistics team, led by Clare Anderton, have done a fantastic job in planning our routes over 1,100 miles, identifying potential feed stations, and setting things up for a couple of events en route. They have also shaped a wonderful Community Day for September 1st.

We will be hosting two alumni events, in Belfast and Cardiff. The former is an informal gathering at the Tree House Bar, Elms Village on the evening of August 23rd; the latter will be at the Millennium Stadium, organised by the Director of the Welsh Rugby Union, our alumnus Roger Lewis. That is on the evening of August 28th.

Life Cycle has a very different start this year, no fly-drive to the far north of Scotland, followed by a short 55 mile first day. Our point of departure is Jubilee Campus and Day 1 will be around 85 miles. In fact the first four days are 82 to 92 miles back to back. That is causing a little anxiety among some of the riders (including me!).

Nottingham's cycling heritage in ChinaBut it will be something special to depart from the University, and since Jubilee was the former home of Raleigh we have a nice echo of an important part of Nottingham’s industrial heritage. Incidentally, when I recently visited the museum at Chiang Kai-shek’s home in Zhejiang Province (he was the former leader of the Chinese Nationalist Party) I was delighted to see the classic Raleigh bike in the picture as one of the exhibits.

This core of this year’s team are Life Cycle 2 veterans: me, Karen Cox, Penelope Griffin, Nick Miles, Andy Noyes, Kate Robertson, Chris Rudd, Steve Wright and Neville Wylie.

Mike Carr, Chris Jagger and Gavin Scott are no longer with us (on the ride I mean, they are all still very much alive and kicking). And we have two new riders: Marion Walker and Steve Walton, both new to the Life Cycle, and both more or less new to cycling. Marion is Professor of stroke rehabilitation (and has an MBE for her transformational work); and Steve is a Member of the University Council and Chair of the Audit Committee.

As you can imagine Chris Jagger’s absence has stimulated fevered speculation regarding his current whereabouts. Is he working undercover with the Special Forces? Has he been seconded to GCHQ? Or has he just lost his precious Garmin and failed to find his way to the start? More on that anon no doubt.

Last year I had two Chris’s and distinguished between them in the Life Cycle blog as Chris J and Chris R. This year I have two Steve’s, but both surnames begin with W, which gives me a bit of a problem. But I have a solution. Steve Wright has been training in the Dolomites and is constantly slipping into what I think are Italian phrases (in truth I’m not completely confident since I only speak French). Anyway, that gives me an obvious solution: hereafter, to avoid confusion I will refer to him as Stefano and Steve Walton as just plain Steve.

Way of the RosesEveryone has done what training they can, ranging from Sunday mornings (me and others); to several rides a week (Stefano and Marion). Over the last couple of weeks I have been asked many times ‘are you ready?’ There are obvious constraints on what I can do by way of training, and it is too late to worry about whether I have done enough: it will have to do and I am ready to go.

Inevitably there has been some frantic last minute shopping, in some cases to ensure the right kit has been packed, in others to try and get the right colour matches. Cases are loaded, bikes checked, and the Day 1 schedule confirmed: try and clear Jubilee by 0800, then around 85 miles more or less due north to York. The last check is an all important one: the weather forecast suggests it will be dry with sunny intervals and westerly winds. I am very happy to settle for that.

Finally, as of today we have raised £210,000 for stroke rehabilitation research. That is a fantastic position to be in before we set off, and puts us well on the way to our target of £300,000. So a very big thank you to all who have supported us so far.

As last year I will post a Life Cycle blog daily, which I hope proves to be of interest and look forward to seeing your messages and comments.

Professor David Greenaway

Posted in Life Cycle 3